The Bombay High Court on Monday requested the Maharashtra government’s response to a public interest litigation requesting the resumption of voice and video call facilities for inmates to communicate with their family members and lawyers.
A divisional bench consisting of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice VG Bisht said it was an important issue because not everyone can go to jail to visit an inmate.
“This is an important question. Not everyone can go to jail…Why can’t video and voice call equipment be allowed?” asked Chief Justice Datta.
The court ordered Additional Attorney General AR Patil to follow the government’s instructions and released the case for a rehearing on May 4.
The petition, filed by the NGO People’s Union for Civil Liberties, claimed that the possibility of voice and video calls for detainees was arbitrarily and abruptly stopped in 2021.
According to the plea, amid the COVID-19 pandemic in July 2020, prisons had set up voice and video call facilities for inmates.
The petition claimed that according to the model prison handbook published in 2016, the warden of each prison must authorize inmates to use telephone and electronic communications against payment to contact family members and lawyers.
The petition called for the government’s decision to shut down voice and video calling facilities to be reversed and reversed as it violated the basic rights of inmates.
The decision to shut down voice and video calling facilities and allow only physical meetings imposes unnecessary hardship on family members and legal representatives of detainees, according to the plea.
The petition also said voice and video calls are convenient for inmates housed in jails outside of their place of residence.
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